The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Cycling Concepts and HR: Time Trials

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In cycling, the time trial is also known as the race of truth.  It is the only time in cycling (triathlons excluded as that’s not real cycling…) where you are not allowed to draft or engage in team tactics.  In the time trial, it’s all about you and your abilities.  In HR, there are some activities that you really have to own.  This is not to say that end to end processes don’t involve other people, but that HR should not be afraid to step up and take ownership at the appropriate time.

The problem is that oftentimes HR focuses too much on the tactical elements of our functions.  When we become strategic, it also means that we should be thinking more broadly about our businesses and focusing outside of the HR function.  There will also be significant areas where the business needs support, and all too often we think it’s IT’s job or an operational issue so therefore not our responsibility.  I’ll give you a couple examples:

Knowledge management has traditionally not been part of the HR function’s domain.  However, learning, skills, competencies all often reside within the HR function.  If there are synergies anywhere within the organization, it’s within HR.  I certainly realize that the knowledge being managed is often operational in nature, but certainly HR should play a major role in the development of this function.  (I do support this being a separate function by the way).  While knowledge management is already a developed function in many organizations, it was (at some point) an area where HR had the perfect opportunity to step up.

Another example would be Web 2.0.  Once again, Web 2.0 is about employee interactions, learning, collaboration, and innovation.  More importantly, it’s about our employee populations and augmenting/governing their interactions with each other.  Again, these areas are not specifically in the domain of HR, but again, this is an emerging area where HR can step up and broaden its scope within the organization as well as enhancing it’s position in areas that are not seen as administrative commodities.

I’m not advocating that we go after every area that doesn’t have an owner, but we should look for areas within the business that have clear relationships with the work that we already do, and make ourselves more integrated with the overall business.  Sometimes we just need to step up – building credibility is about what we’re willing to own.

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